It is an angular deformity of a knee joint where if the child is standing straight with the feet together, then the knees are apart while the ankles are together giving the lower limbs a bowlegged appearance. The medical term for bowleg is genu varum.

The most common cause is physiological i.e. it is a normal variation of development where babies are born bowlegged as a result of their legs being folded in the uterus.As a child starts to stand, without support, the bowlegs become more prominent at that time and gives a child a waddling gait. Bowlegs resolve by the time the child is about 2 years of age, we can see a physiological knock knees setting in between 3 to 4 years of age. The other causes include trauma (if you have had a fracture at the lower end of the thigh bone or upper end of the leg bones, that has not healed properly it can give rise to bowlegs) and Vitamin D deficiency can give rise to a condition called rickets which can give you bowlegs. Any genetic disorder of the b one or cartilage can cause the same problem.

In terms of management, most of the time it is physiologic, so we don’t need to do anything and by the time the child is 2 years of age we see the condition resolve on its own. However, an evaluation by the pediatric orthopedician is definitely warranted if: there is associated pain and the bowlegs are very pronounced, if it persist beyond 2 years of age or if the bowlegs are asymmetrical. And if there are other causes like trauma or rickets causing the bowlegs then that requires further investigation and appropriate treatment by the doctor.

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